In business, we often talk about the Execution Gap or the Knowledge-Action gap. This is the space between what we know and what we do. It's a problem because it's time-consuming, expensive, and solvable.
The Execution Gap is a problem because it represents a disconnect between what an organization knows it should do and what it actually does. This gap can lead to values not being translated into results and achievement falling short of potential. The Execution Gap can be a source of frustration, anxiety and disengagement for both leaders and employees, who may feel that communication and trust are missing. Executives may think that team members aren’t living up to the company's values or meeting its standards, and teams may feel lost and without adequate support or guidance to perform at their peak. Addressing the Execution Gap is essential for businesses and organizations that are growth-oriented and wanting to develop a culture of excellence.
There are many ways to bridge the Execution Gap, but the first step is to address it head-on. Employees and leadership may need training and enhanced skills to translate knowledge into action. Without openly communicating about what is and is not working, organizations miss key opportunities to identify skill deficiencies and areas where support is needed in order for work to be completed effectively.
Organizations can provide their employees with the tools to execute successfully through strategic training opportunities. This includes training on the company's values, goals, and standards. While these guiding principles may be clear to leadership, it’s essential that the full organization understand and embrace the underpinnings of the group in order to perform in line with expectations.
Moreover, skill development in areas of how to commit to a goal, engage effectively with the challenge of pursuing a goal, and ensuring goal achievement are strategies we often assume a team member possesses, but may need further nurturing. Providing an environment for guided trail and error and full support in developing team competency will pay dividends over time.
Finally, communication is vital. Employees need to be kept up-to-date on what the organization is doing; what is going well, where are opportunities for improvement. Team members must regularly articulate their goals and direction, and share what they are each working on to identify any overlaps, synergies or redundancy and hold each team member to account.
Experienced coaches can support executive teams to provide the skill sets and growth facilitation needed to bridge the execution gap, and help create a culture of excellence in which organizational drive results.
The following is a simple exercise to strengthen channels of communication, provide opportunity for constructive feedback, check in on each team member’s goals and current direction, and ensure alignment between team focus and organizational values.
One exercise that helps top leaders bridge the execution gap is called the 3 x 3 Management Framework.
Every morning the team meets in person or virtually to share their 3 top priorities for the day, and once every other week, the team digs deeper with three probing questions.
We designed the 3 x 3 Management framework after months of unproductive meetings, lack of routine, poor accountability and waning motivation. Without a short and focused morning meeting, some team members foundered. Morning meetings can eat into the most productive hours of the day, so we committed to a daily meeting that is short and sweet, and we hold each other to account.
Accountability is about support, communication and trust. Great accountability also has zero shame, guilt or blame hiding below the surface. Targets are set by the individuals and are self-motivating.
Everyone knows to come prepared with their top three priorities and has a maximum of 3 minutes each to share them and receive feedback. If anyone’s sharing results in the need for team collaboration, we schedule additional time following our morning 3x3 to allow other team members to get back to their day.
Ultimately this 3x3 framework turns knowledge into action. and in time competence and wisdom. Articulating to your teammates what is going well, what you are focused on currently and what you are working to achieve ignites engagement, commitment and drive.
This framework is highly effective and boosts productivity, morale, and accountability. Why not apply this to your regular meeting schedule?
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